Hello hello! I'm officially on the other side of my first week of teaching and although a nap probably wouldn't be amiss, I thought I would reflect on my past week during the afternoon lull around home. We started school last Thursday, celebrating with a Mass and a half-day, followed by a Friday test-run of sorts for the logic school scholars who needed to practice getting to and from their classes with the bell schedule.
When Monday rolled around, we were already to begin working! The theme of the week was rules, expectations, and procedures. And although I did not understand why those were so critical on our first Thursday, I am just now beginning to see the fruits of other, more seasoned teachers labors. Although many are bored by the end of it, practice really does make perfect and by Friday, each of periods were coming in quietly, settling down, and starting on their morning or afternoon work (similar to a bell ringer or a to do). These quiet activities set the tone for the class period, keeping them busy from bell to bell.
I have to admit by Thursday, my yoga routine had me going over and over in my head what was going wrong with my homeroom. Nothing had really gone wrong but they weren't being their best. And although I started the week with the intention of not being their friend, I realized mid shavasana that I was still being too nice. My homeroom scholars needed the bar raised even higher and no wiggle room. They were just too young for the approach I had originally started with. On Friday morning, I started my day with a prayer intention that I could rediscover the no-nonsense camp director I had buried two years ago. God heard my plea for the grace to be what they needed me to be, and let me tell you, Friday was a much better day.
The difference? I didn't allow space for them to mess up. There was no time for them between assignments, columns and rows were dismissed to do certain jobs; I effectively removed the temptation and created a different environment that demanded a different behavior.
I realize now that the old adage, "don't smile at them before Christmas" came with a nugget of wisdom: start with high demands and a tight leash to see what your scholars can handle. Don't immediately give them the mile, start with an inch.
I think the most important thing I've learned thus far is how critical those routines are and how much the lack of one can throw everyone off. A rainy Thursday showed me just how badly we needed to establish other routines they could rely on when things got crazy.
Procedure. Procedure. Procedure.
But as I drove home yesterday, I was filled with an immense satisfaction. It was a job well done this week. It wasn't perfect. There were a few bumps in the road. But my Free Read Friday was a success and you had better believe that those scholars are going to better readers and writers come May 2019 if Mrs. Wood has anything to say about it.
I am so excited to start a new blog feed on Catholic Compass and am so curious about what shape this particular page will take over time. For those who don't know, I moved to Kansas City four years ago to pursue a legal degree. After three semesters, I had to do some deep thinking and admit to myself that law school and the legal field was not what I had hoped for. I decided to leave law school. If you're curious, you can read more about my decision to quit here. Although I didn't announce it then, I had already decided I wanted to work in education. A year and half later, my old classmates have recently finished taking the bar exam and I am in the middle of my first week of professional development at St. Regis Academy, a Catholic school in the Kansas City area.
During the last year and a half, I have taken classes in education from Park University to prepare and earn my certification in English Language Arts education through an alternative route available to individuals who already have a Bachelor's degree in their field. (I have mine in English, Technical Writing, from Pittsburg State University). Although I have a class or two left, I felt more than prepared to tackle working and those last few classes last spring and God was ready for me to jump in as well.
St. Regis Academy has done a massive overhaul of their school and are switching to a new (old) model of education called the Classical curriculum model. The Classical model emphasizes primary texts over text books and can also be described as a Catholic liberal arts education. The school will teach in a counter-culture manner to the current education system, including things like cursive handwriting and an emphasis on beauty, wisdom, and virtue rather than data gathered from assessments.
You can expect to find information about my units and lessons, reflections on how they go, more information about Classical curriculum as I learn more, and fun things like room tours and anecdotes. Please join me in this journey and share it with your friends and family by liking my Facebook page so that you won't miss a post! You can find the page here.
In the mean time, please pray for the academy and our young scholars who return to school next week. Change can be intimidating but I truly believe that God has an amazing plan in store for St. Regis in the coming years.
First year Catholic educator in the Classical curriculum style. I teach middle school English-Language Arts.